Saturday Sermon: Stop, look, listen

Mark 9:7

Four-year-old Laura grabbed her mother's chin and yanked her face around to her own then, in a very loud voice, she told her mom what she wanted to say. She did the same thing several times during our visit.

I asked my wife why the girl did it and she said, "There are seven people in that house and they are all talking. She's the youngest and it's the only way she can be sure her mom hears her. She looks her in the face."

The greatest weakness of my deafness is my inability to listen when I should. Because I talk too much, it makes me a poor listener. It's so much easier to talk than it is to listen. We need to listen more with our eyes. For lip readers, like myself, there is no other way to listen. Others need hand motions and body language to understand. I just need to see the lips move clearly. Bushy mustaches are a hindrance, however.

We need to listen to our family and friends with our eyes and open hearts. Then, and only then, can we communicate and learn from them. The first duty of love is to listen.

Our primary responsibility as Christians is to listen to Christ. If we have a hard time listening to others, think of how badly we will listen to Jesus. On the Mount, when Jesus was transfigured, he was alone with Peter, James and John. A cloud suddenly appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud, "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!"

This has always been our primary task - to listen to Christ, for he is the one who guides our lives and points us to better relationships. He leads us to more fulfilling lives.

A couple from our church has been living through what could seem an awful nightmare with their son because of a life-threatening accident. Day-by-day at his side, they've waited for him to open his eyes, then slowly come back to the life he knew before. They have had to listen to God and watch him work through caregivers and doctors.

They have grown increasingly closer to God by communication, much of which is listening to him talk to them and move before them. They share, daily, with others who join them on the Internet to read about their day with Caleb and the creator. Hundreds have joined them in prayer. Things change when we listen to God.

In her book, "The Listeners," Taylor Caldwell writes, "Man does not need to go to the moon or other solar systems. He does not require bigger and better bombs and missiles. His basic needs are few, and it takes little to acquire them. He can survive with the smallest amount of bread in the meanest shelter, but his real need, his most terrible need, is for someone to listen to him."

We all need someone to listen to us. But we also need to listen. We need to listen to one another and we need to listen to Christ. "This is my Son, Whom I love. Listen to Him." That isn't just good advice. That is a command from God.

Pray for Caleb. Amen.

Charles Placker is a licensed minister who writes for the Victoria Advocate.